5 Job Interview Mistakes to Avoid – Career Advice from a Big 4 Recruiter

As an amateur blogger and self-proclaimed “journalist”, few things bring me as much excitement as the prospect of conducting a high profile interview. And in the world of accounting students, very few people are as high profile as a recruiter from one of the Big 4 Accounting firms. It’s for these reasons that I was filled with excitement when interviewing Ms. Dawn Thompson for some tips on improving your odds at landing that next dream job. Always energetic and good humored, Dawn is a Campus Recruiter at Ernst and Young who has helped many students getting a jump start in their accounting career. Here are some of the tips she mentioned:

1.Not giving your resume a chance. Before you even receive that all important call to schedule an interview, you should make sure that you’ve given your resume all the help it can get. It’s not just about spell checks or font size either; you want to make sure YOUR resume isn’t just another page in a thick stack of paper. Go to your school’s career fairs, talk to recruiters, and network with professionals in the company to make sure whoever is reviewing the resume can put a face on it. At the same time, it’s important to remember that you are building a relationship with these professionals, not “stalking” them. Genuine relationships, whether professional or otherwise, takes time to develop and cannot be forced on the spot. When you send an email or pick up the phone, make sure you have something of substance to communicate and not just there to chit chat.

2.Being late. This might seem obvious but it’s worth repeating, being late isn’t just about showing up on time for the interview. According to Dawn you should be at least 30 minutes early for every interview, enough time to ensure you will always be on time barring truly unusual circumstances. 30 minutes early also means you will always look your best; and not drenched in sweat and panting from that jog you took from the subway station.

3.Do not know your resume.How can I not know my own resume? While it might be rare for a candidate to outright fabricate past experiences on their resume, we’ve all felt the temptation to “dress things up” here and there. Expect to be drilled on every line on your

British HQ Map of Manhattan

resume. “Don’t use supervisor when you were really a team player.” Dawn said, “Every item on your resume is fair game and shouldn’t be falsified.” Using big words that you cannot back up via examples would be another violation of this rule. So be prepared, have examples standing by and be ready to elaborate on every item of your resume.

4.Not doing your homework on the position. Generals do not go into battle without first studying the terrain; you shouldn’t go into an interview without reviewing the position. Why are you applying for the position and why at this firm? Know at least the basics of the company and position. It’s also important to know what you want to find out. Prepare some questions beforehand so you avoid having no questions for the interviewer, a sure sign that you are either not interested in the position or didn’t do your homework. Prepare 3 questions ahead of time and 3 more based on the interview. After the interview, remember to send a thank you note via Email within 24 hours. Paper thank you notes should be reserved for only individuals with beautiful penmanship, and remember recipients do sometimes compare notes!

5. Failure to control your image. Even if you know your resume like the back of your hand and show up half an hour early for the interview, it is still possible to leave a weak impression because you failed to present a strong personal image. Ask yourself before the interview whether you have a very clear set of objectives and goals that you want to achieve through the interview. And if so, how are you going to share these goals with the interviewers. If you did not think through how you want to come across, your body language will be incongruent and unnatural, and your communication skills will suffer as a result. Only with practice and proper planning can you learn to communicate clearly and effectively, hold an interesting conversation, and ask meaningful questions throughout the interview.

Dawn also spoke about the importance of working with your school’s career center to identify areas in your presentation that could use improvement. For more career advisement information, skill workshops and corporate presentations, please visit the Graduate Career Management Center website at http://zicklin.baruch.cuny.edu/careers.

P.S. If you liked this post and would like to check out more of my job hunting tips and follow along my journey to a Big 4 Accounting Firm Offer, please also check out my blog at www.big4journey.com

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  1. […] This post was originally written for and posted on the Graduate Baruchian blog, but as it is very much related to my own blog I’ve decided to post it here as well. You can find the original post at 5 Job Interview Mistakes to Avoid […]



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